Eyes on Dutchmen as Fenerbahçe hosts Feyenoord
ISTANBULA heavy Dutch presence in the Fenerbahçe ranks will ensure plenty of intrigue as Dick Advocaat’s team welcomes Feyenoord on Sept. 29 in a Europa League Group A match.
Advocaat will be on the opposite bench from one of his old charges, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, in a game that will give the winner a major advantage in the race to advance from the group stage.
Advocaat was van Bronckhorst’s coach at the Glasgow Rangers from 1998–2001, during which time the club won two Scottish doubles, and was also his boss with the Netherlands from 2002–2004.
The 69-year-old, whose birthday was two days before the game, is in his first term with Fenerbahçe. The one-time Netherlands coach has amassed domestic league titles in the Netherlands with PSV, Scotland with the Rangers and Russia with Zenit, having also led Zenit to glory in the 2008 UEFA Cup.
In the clubs’ only previous encounter, Bert van Marwijk’s Feyenoord – then the UEFA Cup holder – made light work of Werner Lorant’s Fenerbahçe in the 2002-2003 season Champions League third qualifying round.
Shinji Ono scored the lone goal in the first leg, and was on target again in Istanbul along with Thomas Buffel as his side completed a 3-0 aggregate success.
Fenerbahçe’s Dutch striker Robin van Persie was an unused substitute for Feyenoord in that game, making the bench for the first time in a Champions League fixture.
The Istanbul club’s squad includes two other Dutch players who were signed this season: Right-back Gregory van der Wiel, who came from Paris Saint Germain, and winger Jeremain Lens, who is on loan from Sunderland.
Feyenoord midfielder Dirk Kuyt, 36, spent three years with Fenerbahçe before rejoining the Dutch club 12 months ago.
“When I decided to leave Liverpool there were a lot of clubs in Europe I could have gone to, but I wanted to go to a club that was ambitious – and then Fenerbahçe came along,” Kuyt told uefa.com of his spell with the Istanbul club.
“I had such a great time there, my family as well. The people really looked after me, and I was very successful. We won the cup, we won the league and we did well in Europe – for the first time in the history of the club we reached [a major European] semifinal [in the 2012/13 UEFA Europa League].
“It’s great to see how passionately the fans experienced that European adventure, that’s how it should be.”
Kuyt said his experience in Istanbul “made me a different person.”
“Turkey, Fenerbahçe, is a totally different country, a different culture to what I was used to in the Netherlands and in England. It made me a different person, and I’m glad I took up that challenge,” he said.
Fenerbahçe is unbeaten in six European home games (five wins and one draw) since a 3-1 loss at home to Molde in the opening fixture of last season’s Europa League group stage.
Two other Turkish teams will play Europa League group matches on Sept. 28.
Konyaspor, which lost 1-0 to Shakthar Donetsk at home in its first game, travels to Belgium to take on Gent in a Group H game, while Osmanlıspor, having won 2-0 against Steaua Bucharest on match day one, travels to Zurich in Group L.